First it was the military, then the police, and now health care workers. The American trinity is now complete.
Since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers have been idolized as heroes, applauded on airplanes, praised for keeping us safe, worshiped in churches, and thanked for their service ad nauseam. Where U.S. soldiers go, how long they stay, whether they should go, or what they do when they are there doesn’t seem to matter to most Americans. It doesn’t seem to matter how many widows and orphans our soldiers make, how many bombs they drop, how many civilians they kill, how much infrastructure they destroy, how many bullets they fire, how many missiles they launch, or how many of “the enemy” they injure, maim, or kill.
With the advent of the coronavirus madness earlier this year, the American god of the military seems to have been forgotten.
For many years now conservatives have talked about supporting the local police. You know, the local police who carry out no-knock raids, the local police who engage in asset forfeiture, the local police who are militarized, the local police who issue tickets to motorists for not wearing seatbelts, the local police who pull over motorists in order to meet their monthly ticket quotas, the local police who carry out the drug war, the local police who entice people to commit crimes to entrap them, the local police who arrest people for victimless crimes. And now, in the age of Covid-19, the local police who run people out of parks for the crime of taking their children to playgrounds.
Since the dreadful incident in Minneapolis regarding George Floyd, the god of the police seems to have fallen out of favor.
But never fear, Americans have new gods to worship. America’s newest gods are health care workers. Now, unlike the military and the police, it is generally not the health care workers who have elevated themselves to godhood. But elevated they have been—and reverenced, honored, and adored while they have been deified. We continually see signs telling us thank health care workers for their service. They are working odd hours and long shifts, we are told. They are facing disease and death, we are told. I am not on Twitter, but I have seen the hash tag #healthcareheroes. The Internet is full of articles about how to help health care workers:
In Michigan, “families are encouraged to step outside their front door and shine a flashlight toward their nearest hospital and to also change porch lights to a blue light bulb to show support for health care heroes and first responders across Southeast Michigan.” All across the country, people have been encouraged to applaud health care workers.
Time for a reality check.
Health care workers have always worked odd hours and long shifts. It’s part of their job. Health care workers deal with disease and death all the time. It’s part of their job.
But this is different—they have never battled the coronavirus before!!!
Yes, but they have battled real diseases and conditions like cancer, pneumonia, heart disease, meningitis, stroke, diabetes, herpes, asthma, kidney disease, tuberculosis, and well as life-threatening accidents. The coronavirus doesn’t even compare to these things.
If you are a physician, a registered nurse, an EMT, a hospital orderly, a nursing assistant, a home health aid, an LPN, a lab technician, a phlebotomist, a physician assistant, a medical equipment cleaner, an ambulance driver, or you work in a hospital, nursing home, or morgue—thank you for doing your job.
But let’s not forget to also thank those who drive a cab, work in a coal mine, fly airplanes, work in a hotel, collect the garbage, work in a convenience store, drive trucks across the country, crawl into attics for pest control, catch fish, grow food, raise livestock, provide tech support, deliver pizza, unclog drains, build houses, write apps, and install new roofs.
If you work at all, thank you. Thank you for working to earn a paycheck and helping the free market to work.
No one should be deified just for doing his job. If you think that you work too many hours, think that you don’t get paid enough, think that your job is too dangerous, and think that you aren’t appreciated as much as you should be—then find another job.